Now, Now at the 9:30 Club

Minnesota indie rockers Now, Now perform at DC's 9:30 Club.

WASHINGTON, November, 30, 2012 —Sometimes it’s not very hard to see certain things coming at you. In pop music, there’s a general feeling in the atmosphere when a band seems as if they’re about to make a significant leap. Whether that move involves creativity or recognition, it just seems to hang in the air waiting to be recognized. As for Now, Now, they currently appear to be on the verge of something important. But, as always, as always with this band, it’s unclear exactly what that something might be. Shows like their recent opening slot at the 9:30 Club are evidence of a band that seems to realize something big could be happening in their immediate future, even as they seem to have difficulty dealing with their current reality.

Technically speaking, Now, Now first coalesced in 2003 as Now, Now Every Children. But today, they identify themselves essentially as a different band since they shortened their moniker to “Now, Now” in 2010.  Over the past few years they’ve gradually garnered some mainstream media attention, particularly with their recent appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” their biggest splash thus far. They certainly seem to be a band on an upward swing with a sound that justifies further mainstream attention.

This gives them a certain appeal when you’re watching them perform live, especially at DC’s 9:30 Club. Now, Now is a band that legitimately sounds fresh and unique. This is a little odd, though, since that’s usually a label which gets slapped onto more upbeat and poppy bands. In contrast, the atmospheric charge Now, Now imposes on their sound is haunting and carefully textured to a point where it seems surprising they’re only a three-piece band instead of something much larger in size and scope.

What’s particularly interesting about Now, Now is just how guitar driven they appear to be in their live set. On their album Threads, the guitar fades in and out, sinuously intertwining with the keyboards to create a distinctive, cohesive sound. But it’s only when they play acoustically at the end of their Neighbors EP that their unique brand of guitar work becomes more readily apparent.

Playing live is a much different prospect. Everything on their album is there in the live set, but the varying aspects of Now, Now’s sound have a much more individualistic pop to them. It’s not that the keyboard doesn’t play as big a role in their live set, because it’s still the focal point for their atmospherics. But in particular, Jess Abbot’s guitar work becomes more noticeable in the process instead of simply blending into the band’s atmospherics.

Their approach to sound transforms them into a relatively more clear-cut indie rock band, devoid of band synthpop pretentions and roots—something that they often appear to be on the surface. 

A lot of this hinges on Cacie Dalager’s vocals. Her vocals may not be the real driving force behind the band’s sound. Yet everything seems to spin around her presence, providing the band’s over all sound with a focal point—odd, really, because she’s not a really powerful singer, instead favoring a soft and mellow style of singing. This, combined with the haunting nature of the Now, Now sound conjures up an almost hypnotic feeling for much of the band’s set. Dalager so easily blends in with the rest of Now, Now’s performance style that it becomes hard not to get lost in hypnotic aura of many of their songs.

These production values, though, have a tendency to feel too cleverly meticulous at times. Now, Now actually comes off as a rather shy band in person. But this might simply be an extension of their inherent self-awareness. Their approach doesn’t seem orchestrated, but rather, seems instead to be carefully thought out ahead of time. If that’s really the case, it’s obvious they know there could be big things in their immediate future and are in the process of getting ready for them to happen. Hopefully others in both the audience and the industry will be on the same page.


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Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener and an occasional writer.  He grew up in the Washington DC area and has been embedded in the local music scene for years.  Currently he lives in Vienna, VA.   He enjoys bands that have been broken up for at least a decade.

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